Author Topic: The Development of the British Approach to IED Disposal in Northern Ireland  (Read 1068 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline daftandbarmy

  • Myth
  • *****
  • 330,845
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 16,643
  • The Older I Get, The Better I Was


When the army deployed to Northern Ireland in 1969 it was unprepared for the intensive bombing campaign that was to follow. Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) was conducted in much the same way as it had been since the 19th  century – manually, with one or two men pitting themselves against the device, or its creator. The painful experience of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland - and in particular the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) bombing campaign - led to the development of the contemporary British approach to IEDD.

The army dealt with over 56000 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) incidents by 2007, rendering safe over 6300 IEDs. These successes came at a heavy price. 17 Ammunition Technical Officers (ATOs) and three other EOD team members were
killed in Northern Ireland. Most of these deaths occurred during the early 1970s.

It must be asked why the IEDD was more dangerous then and why did it become apparently safer in later years, despite the terrorists’ growing prowess? This thesis argues that EOD changed in the 1970s as a result of the lessons learned when
casualties occurred, and that the most important changes were conceptual. Safety and success for the EOD teams came not from out-braving the bombs, but from outthinking the bombers. The lessons learnt were distilled and formalised into a set of
principles, philosophies and rules that guided the conduct of IEDD operations.

This thesis explains how the EOD experience in Northern Ireland shaped the contemporary British approach to IEDD operations. It begins with an introduction and a historical background. The methodology used is discussed, and the available literature on the subject is reviewed. An overview of the development of IEDs and IED tactics is offered, and the state of IEDD at the start of the Northern Ireland campaign is examined.

Each of the incidents resulting in an EOD fatality is discussed and analysed in a case study, and this is followed by a further selection of case studies that scrutinise non fatal incidents that had an influence on the conduct of operations. A chapter is devoted to an analysis of successful attacks on EOD teams and from this a number of theories are offered. The official responses to
incidents, in the form of regulatory documents and training publications are then discussed before the roles of equipment and personnel selection are considered.

"Now listen to me you benighted muckers. We're going to teach you soldiering. The world's noblest profession. When we're done with you, you'll be able to slaughter your enemies like civilized men." Daniel Dravot